Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Wet Grave” as Want to Read:
Wet Grave
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Wet Grave (Benjamin January #6)

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  716 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
In such stunning novels of crime and character as Die Upon a Kiss, Sold Down the River, and A Free Man of Color, Benjamin January tracked down killers through the sensuous, atmospheric, dangerously beautiful world of Old New Orleans. Now, in this new novel by bestselling author Barbara Hambly, he follows a trail of murder from illicit back alleys to glittering mansions to ...more
ebook, 237 pages
Published April 29th 2003 by Bantam (first published 2002)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Wet Grave, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Wet Grave

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was one of the most complicated of the Benjamin January books I've read thusfar.

We start out with the murder of one Hesione LeGros, a former plaçée whom Benjamin has not seen since he was a teenager. At the time, she boasted of being one of Jean LaFitte's many mistresses; she was wearing an incredible collar of topaz at the ball where January was playing the piano. Twenty-three years later, she's a broken-down prostitute found dead in the streets ... and no one cares.

The second murder
Oct 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The title of Barbara Hambly's novel comes from the expression that "White men come to Louisiana seeking treasure and find a wet grave." (This is paraphrased.)

Once again, Barbara Hambly draws on history to create factual episodes, atmospheric scenes, and bring to life colorful characters, and as usual, the story is fascinating. I enjoyed it all--up to a point. One character introduced was so delightful and captivating that when he was very abruptly and unexpectedly killed I stopped reading right
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a solid entry in the series although it took a while for the story to grab me. It was more of an adventure than a mystery and, in a lot of ways, it felt like the end of the series as a lot of issues in the background story were resolved. It's not. There are more books, so I am curious how the author
moves forward.
Nov 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hambly-barbara
Super read. More thriller than mystery and big changes in Ben's life.
Mar 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
"If ever I have earned your regard or affection, please come and engage in a few sleuth-hound tactics. I am at a complete loss to imagine how anyone but myself could have made quietus for young Fernando--who certainly deserved what he got--and if you do not prove otherwise I shall soon be forced to begin suspecting myself. Please come. I am in fairly desperate straights, though, as I said, I believe I shall be safe enough until the Days of the Dead."

It is not exactly the type of thing a man want
Sandra Carrington-Smith
Not usually a fan of historical novels, I hesitated somewhat when I picked up a copy of Wet Grave by Barbara Hambly, but as fate would have it, I did buy the book, and I am ever so grateful I did. The story takes place in 1830s New Orleans, and highlights a time in history when justice was an elusive luxury, especially if one was a freed colored citizen.

Benjamin January, the well educated son of a placeé – a former slave kept as a mistress by the man who bought and freed her – who is now a surg
Jan 06, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Weeelll, this book was okaaay... but reading this felt a bit like the scene in the Wizard of Oz, where the "wizard" is telling Dorothy to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. I see the man behind the curtain in this story, making it hard to believe in the "wizard" I'm being asked to swallow.

More specifically, I feel like the author clearly wanted this to be the book where (view spoiler)
May 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, historical
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fine mystery although since I've not read any others in the series I was slightly confused by the fast-forward review of the story so far. Benjamin January is a free Black man in 1830s New Orleans, angry about the uninvestigated murder of a poor woman who was once part of the demimonde, in love with an intelligent teacher whom he would like to make his second wife, frustrated with his mother, his lack of money, his sisters...The very intricate web of the story makes for occasionally confusing ...more
Becky Rippel
May 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set in 1835 shortly after Louisiana became part of the U.S., this is a haunting novel. At that time, there were free men of color who were accorded most of the privileges of their white peers- as long as they remembered their place. Benjamin January and his sister had earn this status when his mother was bought from slavery by her protector, St.-Denis Janvier. I was astonished to learn there was a whole society of protectors and placees. The protectors were businessmen and planters who built and ...more
Jun 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really like this series! This series isn't an 'easy' read tho, as Hambly really immerses the reader into the time period with appropriate dialect/slang/names/history...I often found myself reviewing the same sentance a couple of times in order to get things in it's proper place/meaning! In her writing one can almost see/smell the atmosphere it all takes place in! It involves the gulf coast & it's weather, belles & slaves, pirates & even buried treasure!
I might've been tempted to ac
Jun 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in New Orleans, slavery, a ripping good read, Outlander series.
A great and accidental "historical fiction" find at the library.

Main character Benjamin January is a free man of color in New Orleans, 1812, in this 6th book of 8 about him. He is a surgeon and has studied medicine in Paris, but was born a slave. He becomes involved in solving two mysterious deaths which affect him personally, and almost loses his life in the process.

The story is packed with historical information about Old New Orleans, compelling characters, gritty action, descriptions you ca
Apr 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Masterful tale of the seedier side of New Orleans. Benjamin January, the son of a former slave and himself a former slave, was educated in France as a surgeon, but works mainly as an allaround man in his home of New Orleans.

In this novel, he is summoned to attend when a former slave, now a drunk prostitute, is found dead, slashed to death, in her own home. Ben recognizes the woman as a former society woman, a beauty who was all the rage many years before.

Friends and foes alike try to discourag
Jamie Collins
A good read, if not my favorite of this series. Benjamin Janvier's quest for justice for a murdered woman of color, a former courtesan fallen into abject poverty, leads him to a fantastic plot involving smugglers and pirates. Unfortunately this isn't quite as interesting as it sounds, but the setting and the characters are great, and Hambly's writing is excellent, as usual.

There are some interesting flashbacks to Benjamin's younger days in New Orleans, and this book is a very nice chapter in Ben
Jun 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery

So, we’ve got pirates, buried treasure, love, murder, birth, marriage, armed rebellion, leprosy, and a hurricane – shake all together and you’ve got yourself a good read.

What I didn’t like (view spoiler)
I still love these books, but this was totally not my favorite in the series. It's not just because there was no Hannibal (no, he didn't die, thankfully), but somehow I didn't get into this one. Picked it up and the end part was interesting enough that I stayed up to finish it, despite the ludicrously over the top nature of the last few chapters. It honestly reminded me of an action movie - one crisis would be solved and another even more ridiculous one would pop up.

I was surprised to read that
Addison Public Library
New Orleans in 1835 is experiencing one of the earliest and hottest summers. Tempers are on edge in a town already seething with violence. Freedman Benjamin January isn’t looking for trouble when he finds the body of Hesione LeGros, a former pirate’s placée. Soon, however, someone close to him dies and he realizes that the murders are connected and might also be connected to a rumored upcoming slave uprising . #6 in the series. This is one of the most fascinating historical mysteries set amidst ...more
Marlene Banks
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love this character, Benjamin January! Another well woven story of murder, mystery and page turning suspense. This one is especially sweet for me with the focus on his romantic life. I still have only the one complaint; overkill with the gross description of New Orleans in that era. A reader can get enough of the rats, lice, poop and nastiness of that environment. We get the picture, Ms Hambly, so please decrease (not eliminate) your descriptions in that respect. There is only so much cringing a ...more
Feb 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In line with the January series this book reveals severe limitations in the ability of the writer. After several readings of the main character I found it quite difficult to accept the conclusions finally arrived at between January and his fellow slaves;although he himself was "free". The decisions arrived at I think reveals certain limitations and prejudices on behalf of the writer.I never considered myself the most insightful reader but the main character after many readings truly reveals hims ...more
Nov 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Delicious detail evokes a sense of physical presence, while the mysteries require immersion in the historical context. There is invariably a section in each book of this series where I get bogged down, and think maybe this one isn't quite as good as I remember the last one being... but by the time I finish the book, I'm enthralled and as impressed as ever with Hambly's mastery of mystery as a medium for conveying the complexities of human history.
This series is exceptional in its accuracy to its historical place and time, and in its characters, who seem so real that you can hear them exhale. Wet Grave is the 6th novel about Benjamen January, freeman of color in 1830's New Orleans. The series started well and has gotten better with each new book. I have begun to anticipate the actions of each of the finely crafted characters and to cherish their quirks and habits. OK, so I'm hopelessly hooked. Try them, you too can be addicted!
Hambly taps into yet another colorful part of New Orleans lore, the pirate coterie surrounding Jean Lafitte. Jean Lafitte National Historical Park encompasses sites in both the city of New Orleans and the bayous of Acadia, and this novel follows along to both locations. It seems strangely apropos to read it right now, while we all wait for the giant Deepwater Horizon oil slick to ooze over Barataria Bay in slow motion.
Gave this book 100 pages and could not care about the protagonist. A sweeping novel detailing of LA in prime slave-times 1800's. Beautiful details of French/Spanish LA, slave life,debauchery and murder. Sadly I could not get into this book, it did not flow or reach a rhythm/pace. Found writing clear, lavishly descriptive and odd paced/slow. Would I rec. to others, depends on their mood and taste. Will try another to see if I can like January...
Rebecca Huston
Another knockout historical mystery from Barbara Hambly. This time, there are several murders, family secrets, nasty doings on the waterfront, and pirate treasure in New Orleans in the 1830's. While it's not necessary to have read the previous books, it does help to understand the overall arc of the series. And a lovely surprise at the end.

For the longer review, please go here:
Kitty Tomlinson
Benjamin stumbles into major trouble when he starts looking into the death of Hessy LeGros (once the jeweled mistress of a corsair). This leads him into the swamps around New Orleans and those looking for Jean Lafitte's supposed buried treasure!!

Hambly does atmosphere like no other!! I'm from Louisiana and she had me feeling the humidity like it was a new experience!!!
Mar 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like anything written by Barbara Hambly. I first found her in fantasy and she has three trilogies that are favorite. Her use of metaphor is wonderful. Then I found her in mystery and have enjoyed her Benjamin January series—such interesting characters. The first in this series is A Free Man of Color.
Jinjer Stanton
Jun 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What I love about this series is how it immerses the reader in the time and place of the action. This is the one in the series that I missed and it contains life-changing events beyond murder and inhumanity. If writers are going to include romance, this is the way to do it!
May 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this series of historical mysteries set in New Orleans in the 19th century. Hambly's writing is, as always, evocative and her characters fascinating and well-developed. I just wish she was still writing fantasy...
Aug 27, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this mystery series about old New Orleans. They are well researched and I always learn something. This one was mainly about pirate activity. The main character is so unique and interesting; a free man of color working as a surgeon and musician in pre-Civil War New Orleans.
Aug 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010booksread
I love all of the Benjamin January books. This one was satisfying for the development of the relationships between the characters. The plot really took a backseat to that for me, but it was a perfectly acceptable mystery. Can't wait to get the next one!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Rampart Street (Storyville, #3)
  • Cursed in the Blood (Catherine LeVendeur, #5)
  • Petty Treason (Sarah Tolerance, #2)
  • The French Quarter: An Informal History of the New Orleans Underworld
  • A Broken Vessel (Julian Kestrel Mysteries, #2)
  • Person or Persons Unknown (Sir John Fielding, #4)
  • New Orleans Noir
  • The Pirates Laffite: The Treacherous World of the Corsairs of the Gulf
  • What Darkness Brings (Sebastian St. Cyr, #8)
  • Ragtime in Simla (Joe Sandilands #2)
  • Funeral in Blue (William Monk, #12)
  • Sup with the Devil (Abigail Adams #3)
aka Barbara Hamilton

Ranging from fantasy to historical fiction, Barbara Hambly has a masterful way of spinning a story. Her twisty plots involve memorable characters, lavish descriptions, scads of novel words, and interesting devices. Her work spans the Star Wars universe, antebellum New Orleans, and various fantasy worlds, sometimes linked with our own.

"I always wanted to be a writer but everyone
More about Barbara Hambly...

Other Books in the Series

Benjamin January (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • A Free Man of Color (Benjamin January, #1)
  • Fever Season (Benjamin January, #2)
  • Graveyard Dust (Benjamin January, #3)
  • Sold Down the River (Benjamin January, #4)
  • Die Upon a Kiss (Benjamin January, #5)
  • Days of the Dead (Benjamin January, #7)
  • Dead Water (Benjamin January, #8)
  • Dead and Buried (Benjamin January, #9)
  • The Shirt on His Back (Benjamin January, #10)
  • Ran Away (Benjamin January, #11)

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »